Hello and welcome back to another post of my journey with Stevenage Borough FC, where I have just got them promoted from L1 in my debut season into the Championship, their highest every league they’ve ever been in. We’ll also be playing in a different stadium until March (see my last post), but first of all, let’s see what I set my expectations too;
Obviously I set my expectations as to avoiding relegation, and I was given £704k in transfer and around £19k in wages to sign some players that will keep us in this division. I’ll be delighted wherever we finish, as long as it isn’t in the bottom 3.
So there’s my expectations, but let’s see who left the club over the summer;
A lot of players left the club after our transition from L1 to the Championship, and all left the club for free except for Matthew Ball who joined Cheltenham on loan. All these players weren’t good enough and were stuck taking up room in the reserves/first team and gave me a load of extra money to spend on wages, allowing me to sign more players.
So there’s the players that left – who joined?
Fredrik Stoor, End of Contract, Valerenga
I signed Stoor on a pre-contract deal in January when I was offered him by his agent, and I instantly snapped him up considering he has 15 caps from Sweden and is rated 4 stars. He’ll be my first choice RB, and can also play LB if needs be.
Craig Conway, Loan UEOS with £8k p/m fee, Cardiff City
I was pleased to bring in Conway as the quality of our wingers was poor and they are vital to the goals we score as they provide most of the assists, so for an £8k a month deal for a 2 1/2 star winger it’s not a bad deal. He brings experience and can play on both wings, and will be used in rotation mostly.
Declan Rudd, Loan UEOS with £50k p/m loan fee, Norwich City
We definitely paid over the odds for Rudd but I was pleased to sign him as we were desperate for a GK after Murphy’s loan deal ended. The 23 year-old is rated 3 stars and will challenge with Mannone for the first team spot, but is excellent back up.
Conor Clifford, Free Contract
A first of two former Chelsea youngsters, 22 year-old Irish CM Conor Clifford was a good deal for us seeing as he’s young and has 3 1/2 star ability. He can become a mainstay in midfield for us with other start Greg Tansey and hopefully he can chip in with a few goals and assists as well – his 18 work rate a stand-out attribute.
DJ Campbell, Free Contract
I needed more strikers after releasing Dani Lopez and Baker’s loan deal ended and I was happy to get Campbell seeing as he’s a good striker that gets a fair amount of goals. He is 32 now and is rated just 2 stars, which I think is quite harsh, but I’m sure he can chip in with a few goals in the rotating role he will play.
Shaun Derry, Free Contract
Another former QPR player after Campbell that signed was Shaun Derry, who we had on loan for 3 months last season. He’s 36 and will be retiring at the end of the season but he will be decent on a 1 year deal, despite being rated just 2 stars, and will be backup.
Ben Gordon, Free Transfer
The other signing formerly of Chelsea’s academy was Ben Gordon, the 23 year-old LB joining us and will be our first choice LB rated at 3 1/2 stars. I’m pleased again as he’s young and feel he can again, like Clifford, be a mainstay in the team.
Vito Mannone, Loan UEOS with £10k p/m fee, Arsenal
I was delighted to bring in Vito Mannone on loan from Arsenal as he’s a good GK for this level. Rated at 3 1/2 stars, I’m delighted that our parent club have made the fee just £10k p/m meaning we save money and have a good GK, who will probably edge ahead of Rudd and start most games.
Paul McShane, Free Contract
My final signing was Irish CB Paul McShane, again on a free. I was delighted to get McShane as he’s an experienced Irish international and rated 4 stars, and will be my first choice CB and at 28, he still has a good few years in him yet.
So there’s my signings, but how did pre-season go for Stevenage?
It was a decent pre-season for Stevenage where we picked up a few wins but also a few losses. We thumped non-league Biggleswade Utd 8-0 in our first friendly before coming 3rd in our own cup competition as we beat FC Urecht 4-2 in the 3rd place playoff after losing 1-0 to Everton in the other game. I was annoyed to lose 3-1 to L1 side Tranmere but we made up for it with a 2-1 win over Alcoron before we lost 3-0 to Torino and 3-1 to parent club Arsenal.